Freezer-Friendly Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Freezer-Friendly Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PrepSealSave #CollectiveBias

A few weeks ago we were visiting some friends. I offered to help her in the kitchen and gave the disclaimer that I probably had about a minute and a half of uninterrupted time to help. Sure enough less than 2 minutes later my 1 year old was at my feet begging to be picked up.  Having a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old my ability to dedicate my sole attention to making dinner is unlikely. I know this sounds crazy but to prep dinner for eating around 5:30 or 6 I usually start about 4, and that is for those recipes that promise they are ready in 30 minutes or less. Those unending amounts of urgent “MOM” pleas prevent me from making a thirty minute recipe in anything short of two hours. During the holidays when we are trying to watch a budget a little closer and be prepared to serve a few extra mouths if the occasion calls for it,  I love to make a few go to dishes and freeze them, one of my fall favorites is Butternut Squash Enchiladas, but I don’t have a ton of space and to freeze a casserole can be a little tricky. Today I’m sharing my tips for freezing my butternut squash enchiladas or your favorite dishes so they will be ready for your busy holiday season:

How to Freeze Casseroles:

  1. Place wax paper in the bottom of your casserole dish, layer your food into the dish and cover with plastic wrap tightly and then with foil. Note: I like to use the dish I will cook it in, so usually I use my 9 x 13 glass casserole dish which is safe for the freezer.
  2. If you are cooking something before freezing it, make sure your food is cool before putting in the freezer, this is better for your appliances and for food safety.
  3. Freeze overnight, then pop your casserole out of the dish. This allows you to keep your dish for other uses and saves you some space too! I used to just put an extra layer of plastic wrap around my casserole, but I found my food came out with so much freezer burn. I started using FoodSaver® FM3941 Vacuum Sealing System and FoodSaver® Bags and Rolls Value Pack to prevent this.  After I freeze my casserole and pop it out, I put it in the FoodSaver® bags and seal it. This keeps my food freezer burn free and keeps it fresh 5x longer than my old go to of freezer bags or plastic wrap.

A few extra things to keep in mind when deciding what types of foods to freeze. Don’t pick any vegetables with a high water content like lettuce or cucumbers. If your dish includes meat you will want to cook that before freezing, but other ingredients can often remain raw, like lasagna noodles. Make sure to label your casserole well with directions for how to prepare so that it doesn’t get lost in the bottom of your freezer.

The FoodSaver® System includes vacuum seal bags, vacuum zipper bags and containers designed to work together with vacuum sealers for optimal performance.  You can also use it to marinate meat quicker and even cook meat through the sous vide method. By taking all of the air out, you can ensure your meat will be cooked evenly throughout.

Want to try it out for yourself?  I got mine at Costco, and they are having these specials in the month of November:

Butternut Squash Enchiladas
Print Recipe
Fall flavors inspire this timeless classic that is prepped and stored in the freezer for a quick meal option to feed last minute company.
Servings
8 people
Servings
8 people
Butternut Squash Enchiladas
Print Recipe
Fall flavors inspire this timeless classic that is prepped and stored in the freezer for a quick meal option to feed last minute company.
Servings
8 people
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Put butternut squash in a large stockpot and fill with enough water to cover the squash. Bring water to boil, and cook until squash is soft, when pierced with a fork about 20 minutes. You may need to rotate the squash from time to time to ensure even cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions until soft. Add garlic, chipotle, and adobo sauce. Saute until fragrant, another minute or two more.
  3. Remove the squash and cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Cut squash into 1 inch or smaller cubes and add to a large bowl. Add onion mixture, ground beef (if using), black beans, cream cheese, cumin, and green onions. Stir well.
  4. Line a 9x13 baking dish with wax paper. Spread 1/3 of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish and spread into a thin layer.
  5. Scoop about 1/4 cup of filling into each tortilla and loosely roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze. For best results, remove dish after freezing overnight, enchiladas will easily pop out and can be moved to a vacuum sealed bag with FoodSaver® FM3941 to keep it fresh even longer.
  6. To use FoodSaver® FM3941, turn the lever to open and pull out the roll to measure out how long the casserole is making sure to leave roughly 4 inches of space. Turn the lever to closed. Press the seal button and when the light turns off, cut the bag.
  7. Place the frozen enchiladas inside the bag, make sure the bumpy side on the sheets are on the top.
  8. Slide the open end into the opening and press vacuum seal.
  9. This will be noisy for a few seconds and you will see all the air get sucked out. Then it will seal it and you can pull it out and freeze it. Be sure to label it with what it is, what temperature to cook it at and for how long.
  10. Follow the same steps to vacuum seal remaining enchilada sauce separately and freeze.
  11. On the day before you want to cook, remove the frozen dish and set in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. On Cooking Day: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Remove enchiladas from FoodSaver® sealed bag and put into 9x13 dish. Spread thawed enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas, cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven.
  13. Remove foil and top with cheese. Cook for 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted, enchiladas are warmed through and bubbly.
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Low FODMAP Halloween

Low FODMAP Halloween

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

It’s no secret, Halloween is my favorite holiday, so it makes me cry whenever something (or someone) takes the fun out of it. One of those things that scares the fun right out of Halloween is digestive issues. If you are following a low FODMAP diet to ease your digestive woes then Halloween can be a nightmare. Most candy has high fructose corn syrup in it (or at least the good stuff does right?), chocolate can be problematic too, and of course that pesky wheat. Even many “healthier” treats have honey, another high FODMAP ingredient.

Let’s talk about navigating those Halloween treats to make the best choices. One thing that may go without saying but I’m going to mention anyway, is that even “low FODMAP” foods can cause a problem if you eat too much of them. No matter how low FODMAP they are, they can cause you digestive distress.  A chronic diet of too many simple sugars feeds a bad population of gut bacteria which can trickle down to digestive issues long-term, and short-term a high simple sugar diet tends to pull water into the gut and cause a whole slew of tummy troubles. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some delicious Halloween treats with a little moderation. Here are a few things to look for in your favorite candies:

Candy sweetened with low FODMAP safe sweetners such as sugar (Sucrose), cane syrup, corn syrup (different than high fructose corn syrup), dextrose, glucose syrup, and tapioca syrup should all be in the clear

Steer clear of foods that have lactose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sorbitol, apple juice concentrate, glycerin and honey.

 

If you want something else to hand out at your door this Halloween try one of these low FODMAP candy alternatives: 

 

Junkless Bars – We all know the houses that give out the FULL-sized candy bars are the best houses right? Imagine being the favorite of both kids and parents by giving out full-sized bars that have simple healthy ingredients too. If you want that, pop these Junkless bars into your candy bin and watch the kids race to you. They have 8 or fewer whole food ingredients: like oats and peanut butter. Plus, they mostly use brown rice syrup to sweeten the bars which is low FODMAP friendly.

Fody Bars – This is another bar that you will love. It is certified Low FODMAP and pretty delicious if I do say so myself. It is low in sugar too (only 6 grams) and has about 7 grams of protein to blunt that sugar high that you will inevitably get from the rest of the candy.

Gluten free pretzels – For those crazy people that don’t want sweets for Halloween, individual snack bags of gluten-free pretzels can be a great treat.  While pretzels as a whole aren’t particularly nutritious they shouldn’t cause any GI upset and can help to stave off a little hunger too.

 

NOTE: The ingredients in products are constantly changing so be sure to check the ingredient list every time your purchase it.  In addition, individuals tolerance varies, you should test your tolerance to these different treats.

Check out this list of candy that you can safely enjoy:

Bethany Frazier/Jim Frazier is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Turmeric No Bake Monster Cookies

Turmeric No Bake Monster Cookies

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I don’t really get into the creepy, spooky, side, but I do love things that are a little silly like my {Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders, from last year. This year I decided to spookify another favorite recipe to share with your family.

A good monster cookie, always hits the spot for me. What’s not to love? Good monster cookies are soft and chewy, but have crunchy ingredients like M&M’s and oats. We make protein bites/energy balls about once a month. I love them because I feel good about serving my family a protein-packed and fiber-rich treat, and my family loves the taste.  I decided to make this fun Halloween alternative. To give it an extra spooky color I added Turmeric. Turmeric is a spice that adds the extra benefit of scaring away the inflammation in your body!  That means these would make a great recovery food for athletes too!

To get the most benefits you need a little black pepper to absorb the turmeric, so eat it after dinner that you added black pepper to, or if you are really hardcore you can add a little black pepper to these spooky little bites. If you need more reasons to add Turmeric in your life check out my post on Turmeric benefits.

turmeric no bake monster cookies
Turmeric No-Bake Monster Cookies
Print Recipe
Just a few minutes and 6 spooky ingredients and you will have a snack that will bewitch any ghosts or ghouls that come your way this fall season.
turmeric no bake monster cookies
Turmeric No-Bake Monster Cookies
Print Recipe
Just a few minutes and 6 spooky ingredients and you will have a snack that will bewitch any ghosts or ghouls that come your way this fall season.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Form into balls, and place them on a cookie sheet or plate. Put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Note: if you are putting eye balls or other decorative sprinkles on them, put them on before placing them in the fridge.
  3. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
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Dietitian or Nutritionist, Can you tell the difference?

Dietitian or Nutritionist, Can you tell the difference?

Today is my golden anniversary for becoming a dietitian. I became a dietitian five years ago on October 5.  I wanted to do a special post to celebrate this. Recently, I’ve had several prospective clients candidly tell me they didn’t know what to expect when seeing a dietitian. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate my RD-iversery than to open my doors, invite you in, and help you understand what to expect from working with a dietitian.

This is how most people think it’s going to go: I’ll give you a calorie recommendation and a meal plan, and then send you on your way. You won’t hear from me again until you get my OUTRAGEOUS bill and cry in the corner while you eat the chocolate cake I forbade you to eat. Sound about right? I, too, want to know what to expect before I go to a new place or have a new experience.  I will obsessively search the websites of restaurants before I arrive, what attire is appropriate? Is it kid-friendly? If so, DO THEY SERVE ALCOHOL?

Let me illustrate it another way, this year I got my first facial. I thought I approached it with no expectations, because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. Let’s just say it didn’t meet the expectations I didn’t think I had. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized I was expecting my facial to be like a massage. After a good massage, I feel like I’ve had a workout and napped for 8 hours at the same time. Facials are amazing,  but they aren’t a massage, they serve different purposes. Your past experience with a dietitian may be limited to a hospital. Your experience with me will not be like that. You may also have seen a nutritionist or a personal trainer for a weight loss plan; that is also NOT like working with me. Again, those serve different purposes. As dietitians continue to break out of their traditional hospital roles and into the community, many people may wonder what to expect. What questions will we ask, how in depth will we go, how long will the appointment be?

The questions you never thought I’d ask

I personally think the office I work out of is pretty comfy, maybe even a little homey. You won’t have to sit on an exam table, or shiver in a hospital gown, I won’t poke or prod you. I may refer you on for testing or suggest you see a doctor, and I can’t make any promises they won’t do one of the aforementioned things, but I will not do any of that. Let’s just get something on the table to start with though, I am a medical professional so I may ask you some questions that seem a little weird for a “food person” to ask. I will ask you about your medications, your labs, your menstrual cycle, and likely your bowel habits. The more information you have the quicker and smoother it will go. You may be thinking, I just want to lose 10 pounds why would you want to know about my medical history? There is a reason why you are seeing a dietitian and not following some online diet plan, it’s because you want something personalized and evidence-based and that means I have to know the whole picture.

Sometimes people call me a therapist, because I will listen to your problems and try to put the pieces together to solve the puzzle. Food is personal, and food is emotional, or at least we’ve made it that way. Your session is about you. I want to know you and determine what type of interventions are going to work best for you. So just like it may seem weird that we talk about your medical history, I will also ask you about your lifestyle. Who you live with, what type of job you have, if you prefer puppies or kittens? Ok, that may not be a real question, but I do like to really know my clients. This may seem weird at first, because if you are used to your annual (or less than annual physical) with your primary care physician, you may not have a relationship with them at all. This is not true in my practice. I will occasionally work with someone for only one session, but in general nutrition isn’t a one-and-done type of relationship.  My initial appointment is usually about 60 minutes. My clients may be seeing me for quite a while and I want you to feel comfortable sharing anything, you never know if it is related or not.

 

 

Can’t I Just google it?

Almost every call I receive from clients are desperate ones. They have tried everything, googled every answer and nothing is working. I get it, there is a lot of information out there, how could you, who has a job/family/life have time to sift through it all to make sense of it? In working with a dietitian you are getting someone who has, at a minimum, a 4-year degree in Dietetics and done an approximately one year (or 1200 supervised practice hours) internship. Not to mention, that internship is hard to get into – there’s only about a 50% acceptance rate. After that, all Registered Dietitians have to pass an exam, and from there we have to maintain our credentials through continuing education. As dietitians, we are evidence-based. That means we are taking the science and research and applying it to the field of nutrition.

We are in an exciting time as nutrition is taking the forefront of many people’s interest, including researchers. With the help of social media, the research is also reaching the masses at warp speed. That means sometimes the research is still preliminary, or it may reach someone who misinterprets it, sending us all into a frenzy.  My favorite example of this warp-speed nutrition research is eggs. When I was in school, which you may remember was only about five years ago, eggs were bad and you shouldn’t have very many because they could elevate your cholesterol. Now, we basically say that eggs are a great inexpensive source of protein that has many nutrients, like choline, that we need. Science and research is changing. It is my job to stay up to date on the most current research and help you navigate what that looks like for you. If you are a vegan, you don’t eat eggs, so knowing about the changing research isn’t helpful to you. Again, the benefits of working with a dietitian is that we work to apply the research to your preferences and lifestyle.

There is an extra layer of complexity to nutrition research right now, which is keeping us all on our toes and wondering what to believe.  We are just now starting to understand that our genes play a big role in our health. Going back to the eggs, someone with a particular gene may respond negatively to too many eggs, but as a population most people won’t respond negatively to eggs. This makes it increasingly hard to say that one food or food group is “good” or “bad,” because it likely depends on the person.

 

One last thing you should know


We aren’t a one size fits all profession. Just like your primary care doctor may refer you to an orthopedist for knee problems, or a gastroenterologist for gut issues, most dietitians specialize in something. Nutrition is such a broad field and knowing it all beyond the basics, is beyond my brain capacity at least. Even what you would likely think is the main thing that unites all dietitians, counsel on weight loss, many dietitians don’t do. As a practitioner I mainly focus on gut health, and weight management. Make sure you find a good dietitian who specializes in what you need and meets your personality. If I’m not a right fit for you, I likely can help you find someone who is. I want you to get the help you need and I think a dietitian can do that for you. If you are still having trouble determining why a dietitian versus a nutritionist is the right fit for you, just remember that a dietitian is always a nutritionist but a nutritionist isn’t always a dietitian. A good test to use, is to ask the nutritionists that you meet when their RD-iversery is, if you need a reminder, mine is October 5th and I’ll be celebrating!

{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders

{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders

I’ll be honest, as a mom of a picky eater, there are lots of times I just want to throw in the towel and feed my child M&Ms and cupcakes all day. I trick myself into thinking she’d be happier, and I would be too. Recently I was listening to a  webinar about picky eating by a couple of other dietitians. I walked away from that webinar with a renewed sense of direction for helping my picky eater. They said the goal should be to get your child to eat an orange and green fruit or vegetable most days. This goal provides adequate nutrition for growing bodies, even if your picky eater’s palate is limited. After a couple of failed attempts, we resorted to a few favorites, like my sweet potato waffles and then I went back to my original thought, that maybe feeding my child M&M’s and cupcakes didn’t have to be a bad idea.

When I first pulled these out of the oven my little picky eater didn’t want anything to do with them. So, I asked her if she wanted a cupcake, and in true picky eater fashion, she told me, “no, she didn’t like them”. UGH! They are chocolate, I thought, WHOSE child are you?!?

Putting my best Halloween-loving mom brain on, I decided to make my little “cupcake” (they really are more of a brownie, but my daughter doesn’t know what a brownie is yet) into spiders. I grabbed her favorite candy, M&Ms of course, and another favorite snack, pretzels, and made these fun, Brownie Recluse Spiders. Adding a little spider frenzy was all that it took to make my little picky eater into a believer.

Note: While I love the curled legs of the pretzels I have to admit they did take a few extra minutes to make, so if you are trying to make these quickly, grab pretzel sticks instead.  I have also made this recipe with bananas instead of pumpkin. You can sub it out one-for-one but as you’d probably expect they are a little bit sweeter, not a bad thing for most people. I would also recommend using dark cocoa powder if you are using banana to minimize the strong taste of banana.

 

Check out the full video on how to make these fun treats. 

{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders
Print Recipe
{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare mini muffin tins with non-stick spray.
  2. Add peanut butter to a sauce pan and melt over medium heat.
  3. Add ingredients to a large bowl and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tins. (Unlike, typical muffins and cakes the batter will not smooth out as it bakes, so try to smooth the tops before baking). Bake for 20 minutes or until baked through.
  5. Allow brownies to cool and add 8 pretzel "legs" and 2 chocolate candy eyes to each brownie.
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Inspiring Independence in Picky Eaters: {Free Printable}

Inspiring Independence in Picky Eaters: {Free Printable}

Lately, we’ve been struggling with the eating habits of my 3-year-old picky eater.  Maybe, it’s because my almost one-year-old is just experiencing all these new foods for the first time, and I am comparing his food acceptance to her pickiness;  maybe it’s a little burnout; maybe it’s a little bit of my own  health problems with my thyroid that I have been dealing with for the last several weeks. Whatever it is, I had hit my mommy and dietitian breaking point.

My daughter is extremely independent, and has been very capable of selecting her foods and feeding herself for quite sometime. That means when she requests a snack, she isn’t really requesting it, she is demanding it. Even when she says it with the sweetest voice, you know what is going to happen when you say no. Rather than having to tell her no all the time, which I felt like I was, I decided to try a little bit of a positive approach. She has just started being really interested in crafts and coloring and creating things that are “fridge-worthy.” Taking this into consideration, I decided to create a coloring sheet to be a fun backdrop for my little experiment. I helped her select the right color to go on the right fruit and vegetable which she colored meticulously. Then we colored strips with the names of colors on them. She knows a few letters so I explained each word to her and had her color them so she could remember which color was which word. Then I laminated the coloring sheet and the word colors sheet because I had the intention to use them over and over. (I actually might frame it to make it an even more permanent fixture). Then I attached a clothes pin to the paper (you could also use velcro strips), so we could swap out the color of the day. I hung it on the wall and we selected a color of the day which I incorporated into our dinner that evening.

As you can see she was really into coloring this printable.

Nutritionally, eating a wide variety of colors helps maximize the antioxidants and phytonutrients that these foods provide. Each color provides a unique blend. Grouping fruits and vegetables into colors is something that I do with my adult clients as well. I usually use the acronym BROG (Blue/Purple, Red, Orange, Green) to hit all the highlights. You can read more about BROGing for adults here.  I decided from a color matching standpoint to increase the number of colors for this activity to 6 (Blue, Purple, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red). While ideally, she would be eating from multiple of these groups each day, we have to start somewhere.

So far, this is has been going surprisingly well, like Christmas morning well! The day after we created it, she ran excitedly into my room asking what today was, I responded, Friday. She said, no, and repeated, “what day is today?”, clearly irritated I didn’t understand her nuance. Oh, I realized, today is RED day.

If you are ready to up your picky eater game, or just want a fun activity to get the whole family involved in meal planning check out my free printable.

Supplies:

  • Free Printable
  • Crayons or Markers
  • Clothes pin or velcro strips
  • Laminating Sheets (optional but this will make it last much longer)